Daisy Waugh is a journalist and travel writer, who has also worked as an Agony Aunt for The Independent and as a restaurant critic. She also wrote a weekly column from Los Angeles, presented for Channel Four’s Travelogue show and also contributed to Radio Four’s You and Yours.
Her travel book about living in Northern Kenya, A Small Town in Africa, was also very well received. She now lives in West London with her husband and two children.
Last year Candice was really cheeky and asked her if she’d do an interview for us. She agreed! So here it is, in two parts for your reading pleasure.
Well, we thought we might as well try and find out what being a proper author is all about…
Where do you find the inspiration for your writing? Do you write what you know, or is about finding something that interests you and then researching it?
I write historical fiction – so part of the inspiration comes from real events. How my fictional characters respond to those events comes from my imagination. I also try to draw parallels from my own experiences and observations. Imagining what other people are thinking and feeling is the job of a novelist. I spend a lot of time staring at strangers and doing just that.
I love writing – and have always written, since I was a young child and I would be quite out of kilter of I ever stopped. On the other hand – obviously – sometimes I just want to leave the bloody computer and play tennis, or paint my children’s bedrooms (which is what’s hanging over me right now) or lie in bed and read someone else’s novel… Writing is a means to an end – I live off it. But I love it, and I would be wretched if I stopped.
Describe your typical writing day. Where and how do you work?
I walk les enfants to school …come home … muck about on email and twitter … go for a run (which is good thinking time) …. and set out into town with my laptop. I often go to the London Library, which a lot of writers use as a place to work. Sometimes I don’t get as far as the London Library, having stopped off at sundry coffee bars (with plugs for the laptop) along the way. There is one cafe that doesn’t have wifi. When things are very desperate and I can’t seem to knuckle down, I go there.
For the last few years I have been working very hard – four books and minimum one column per week in the last five years — plus three young children… and I am a bit puffed out at the moment. I have another novel to write by December, edits on my Mothering book (I Don’t Know Why She Bothers – Guilt Free Mothering for Thoroughly Modern Women, published June 4th) to deliver within the next few weeks, and a lot promotion work for the novel Melting the Snow on Hester Street, which is out at the end of March….
It is always a relief to escape into the novels. Journalism requires a sort of brittle front which – after all these years – I have learned to take on and off when required… I have written short stories, mostly for charitable collections. The fact is there isn’t much of a market for them and with all the other writing commitments I don’t have time… I am not sure why they would be useful for moving into novel writing, beyond the fact that they are shorter – they’re bloody hard to write.
In our next post, on Thursday, we’ve talked some more about the writing process and also a quick look to the future.